Ginkgo biloba is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. The ginkgo is classified in its own division, the Ginkgophyta, comprising the single class Ginkgoopsida, order Ginkgoales, family Ginkgoaceae, genus Ginkgo and is the only extant species within this group.
Ginkgos are very large trees, normally reaching a height of 20–35 m (66–115 feet)
It appears to have some memory enhancement properties and may help treat alzheimer’s disease (but no effect on dementia). There is conflicting evidence supporting this. Some studies support its use to improve attention.
Out of the many conflicting research results, Ginkgo extract may have three effects on the human body:
- improvement in blood flow (including microcirculation in small capillaries) to most tissues and organs
- protection against oxidative cell damage from free radicals
- blockage of many of the effects of platelet-activating factor (platelet aggregation, blood clotting) that have been related to the development of a number of cardiovascular, renal, respiratory and central nervous system disorders. Ginkgo can be used for intermittent claudication.
Some studies suggest a link between ginkgo and the easing of the symptoms of tinnitus.
Ginkgo may have undesirable effects, especially for individuals with blood circulation disorders and those taking anticoagulants such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or warfarin, although recent studies have found that ginkgo has little or no effect on the anticoagulant properties or pharmacodynamics of warfarin. Ginkgo should also not be used by people who are taking certain types of antidepressants (monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or by pregnant women, without first consulting a doctor.
Ginkgo side effects and cautions include: possible increased risk of bleeding, gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, and restlessness. If any side effects are experienced, consumption should be stopped immediately.
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